Doha, Qatar in One Day - Alvinology

Doha, Qatar in One Day

Qatari kids playing some sort of chess game with pieces that look like puddings to me
Qatari kids playing some sort of chess game with pieces that look like puddings to me

If you are flying long-haul out of Singapore, why not consider flying via Qatar Airways? 

Qatar Airways is the national airline of the State of Qatar and is currently one of the fastest growing airlines in the world. No surprise here because the state itself is developing rapidly, despite having a population of just 2.1 million. Qatar currently has the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels, which have fueled Qatar to become the world’s richest country per capita and achieve the highest human development in the Arab World and 36th highest globally.

Think Singapore and Singapore Airlines on steroid if we have natural resources. That’s Qatar and Qatar Airways.

Long-haul flights via Qatar Airways are competitively priced and entails a transfer at Doha, the capital city of Doha. You can take the opportunity to do a stopover for a day or two to tour the city. Note that visa is required for Singaporeans.

Doha is a modern and rapidly developing city, much like Singapore. It looks set to become one of the premier cities in the Gulf within a few years. On my last trip to Barcelona with Qatar Airways, we had a stopover in Doha on the way back and spent one night in the capital.

Constructions everywhere
Constructions everywhere

Within a day, we covered three attractions – 4WD desert sand dune adventure, explore Souq Waqif, the renovated Arabic market quarter and enjoyed seafood along Al-Corniche, a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay.

We stayed at the 5-star Mövenpick Hotel Doha:

My bedroom in Movenpick Doha
My bedroom in Movenpick Doha
Living room area
Living room area
Kitchen amenities
Kitchen amenities
Bathroom
Bathroom

After a hearty international breakfast at the hotel, we headed off to Qatar Airways HQ and a tour of Hamad International Airport. This was followed by lunch and a trip to the Qatari desert on a 4WD vehicle with an experienced local driver cum guide.

Breakfast at Movenpick
Breakfast at Movenpick

I have been to deserts in India, Australia, Israel and other countries. They pretty much look the same everywhere, but just as astonishing and scary as to the power of nature.

This was the first time I am touring a desert on a 4WD vehicle. the ride was smoother than I anticipated. The thrill is when the driver speed the vehicle up or down steep sand dunes or even just drag it horizontally across the slope. You would think the car is going to topple over together with you and the other passengers, but somehow, the wheels are glued to the inclined sand.

There are many desert safari tour operators in Doha. You can book one online or book one after you have arrived in Doha. It is definitely something worth trying, especially if you have not visited a desert before.

Some pictures to share on the 4WD adventure ride:

The 4WD vehicle we sat in
The 4WD vehicle we sat in
Inside the vehicle
Inside the vehicle
Tracks left behind by our vehicle
Tracks left behind by our vehicle
Tour camels in the desert
Tour camels in the desert
Muzzled camel
Muzzled camel
Camels being led away
Camels being led away
A boy running up a sand dune slope
A boy running up a sand dune slope
Sheryl from our group tried running up the slope too
Sheryl from our group tried running up the slope too
Me seated at the top of a steep sand dune slope
Me seated at the top of a steep sand dune slope
Top-down view of the slope
Top-down view of the slope
Happiness! In the Qatari dessert.
Happiness! In the Qatari dessert.
Break area for food and washrooms
Break area for food and washrooms
Inside the tents
Inside the tents
Our driver checking his car tyres for our safety
Our driver checking his car tyres for our safety
We stopped for some tea and snacks
We stopped for some tea and snacks
Elderly tourist couple strolling to check out the desert water
Elderly tourist couple strolling to check out the desert water
Water
Water
Love the view
Love the view

After the desert tour, we headed to Souq Waqif to do some shopping and soak into the local atmosphere. The place is newly renovated and very orderly. It is more or less organised by what is being sold. One can easily wander around the maze-like corridors for hours and get lost. The best way for me to describe it is that it is likened to a smaller Arabic version of the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand.

There are sections selling spices, textiles and even exotic pets:

From the outside
From the outside
The restaurant and cafe strip
The restaurant and cafe strip
A cafe
A cafe
Nice, clean and safe
Nice, clean and safe
Another cafe
Another cafe
Wooden boat outside a carpentry shop
Wooden boat outside a carpentry shop
Lamps and stuff
Lamps and stuff
More souvenir shops
More souvenir shops
Qatari themed fridge magnets
Qatari themed fridge magnets
Local Qatari-shaped salt and pepper shakers on top of various ornamental boxes
Local Qatari-shaped salt and pepper shakers on top of various ornamental boxes
Vases, jugs
Vases, jugs
Ice cream vendors
Ice cream vendors
Spotted Dora the Explorer
Spotted Dora the Explorer
Locals shop here too
Locals shop here too
Chill out at the cafe
Chill out at the cafe
The area is quite large
The area is quite large
The people here mostly appear quite relaxed
The people here mostly appear quite relaxed
Crafts shop
Crafts shop
Perfume
Perfume
Pets section
Pets section
Parrots
Parrots
Colourful birds
Colourful birds
Iguanas
Iguanas
Birds shop
Birds shop
For the ladies
For the ladies
Jewelry
Jewelry
Hair accessories
Hair accessories
Perfumes and cosmetics
Perfumes and cosmetics
Fortune tellers
Fortune tellers
Household items section
Household items section
Hardware store
Hardware store
Toy store
Toy store
Textile section
Textile section
This section is really colourful
This section is really colourful
Women's wear
Women’s wear
Actually, the Qatari women all dress this way
Actually, the Qatari women all dress this way
Tidbits and sweets shop
Tidbits and sweets shop
Assorted nuts
Assorted nuts
Street food vendors
Street food vendors
Cakes and pastries
Cakes and pastries
Pancakes
Pancakes
Kids' balloons
Kids’ balloons
Toys
Toys
Cosmetics and other women's stuff
Cosmetics and other women’s stuff
Qatari kids playing chess
Qatari kids playing chess
Love their smiles
Love their smiles
Happy shopping
Happy shopping

If you get tired of shopping, you can find a nice little cafe, order some masala tea and smoke a Sheesha (water-pipe):

Sheryl enjoying a water pipe
Sheryl enjoying a water pipe
Cup of coffee
Cup of coffee

The last attraction on our itinerary was dinner at Al-Corniche, a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay and affords pretty views of the city’s skyscrapers.

We had seafood at L’wzaar restaurant, an award-winning, popular large seafood specialty restaurant in Doha. Other than tourists and expats, many locals frequent the restaurant as well. It was pretty good:

L'wzaar restaurant
L’wzaar restaurant
First you pick the seafood you want
First you pick the seafood you want
Next, place your order and how you want it cooked
Next, place your order and how you want it cooked
Large open kitchen
Large open kitchen
Dining area
Dining area
Crab
Crab
Fish baked with almond flakes
Fish baked with almond flakes
Mussels
Mussels
Hummus
Hummus
Grilled prawn
Grilled prawn
Restaurant is really huge, sprawling from one end to another
Restaurant is really huge, sprawling from one end to another

After a good meal, we took a short stroll along the promenade before heading back to our hotel and bidding farewell to the charming little city of Doha:

Doha Bay
Doha Bay
Strolling along the promenade
Strolling along the promenade
A drink stall by the bay
A drink stall by the bay
A last glimpse of Doha by night
A last glimpse of Doha by night

To book a direct flight to Doha or to travel long-haul with Doha as a stopover, visit the official Qatar Airways website for more information. 🙂

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